Global Dispatches

An international news digest

Digital X-Ray Systems Spreading in England

LONDON -- The troubled effort to modernize IT at the U.K. National Health Service is finally finding some success, according to the agency, which said last week that digital X-ray systems are now being used by half of the “trusts” that manage local NHS health care services in Britain.

The NHS has been working to roll out the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) technology for the past 10 years. But the agency said last week that when its IT modernization program was launched 18 months ago, only 24% of the U.K.’s health care trusts had installed PACS equipment.

Now the systems are being deployed at an average rate of six per month, the NHS said, adding that it is on track with a plan to complete PACS deployments at all of its trusts by the end of next year.

The PACS technology replaces film-based X-rays with a digital system that allows medical images to be stored and viewed electronically and makes it possible to send images to other health care facilities via a secure broadband network. PACS can also eliminate film and developing expenses and make light boxes and microfiche readers unnecessary, the NHS said.

The NHS plans to invest more than ¿1 billion ($1.9 billion U.S.) in the PACS technology through 2014. Overall, the agency’s National Program for IT is expected to cost ¿12.4 billion ($23.6 billion) over a 10-year period.

-- Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service

Unpaid Bill Prompts Internet Service Cuts

HARARE, Zimbabwe -- Internet access for users in Zimbabwe has been slowed for about a month because a government-owned telecommunications company hasn’t paid a bill from broadband network operator Intelsat Ltd.

Intelsat has cut the bandwidth it makes available to Internet service providers in Zimbabwe to 10% of the usual capacity because it is owed about $700,000 (U.S.) by Harare-based TelOne, according to the Zimbabwe Internet Service Providers Association.

“Mail traffic is delayed, and outbound Internet traffic is appallingly slow, many sites unreachable,” Nikki Lear, chairman of the association, said last week. The trade group has been lobbying the government-run Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to resolve the problem with Intelsat.

“We’re working closely with to see what we can work out,” said Dianne VanBeber, a spokeswoman for Pembroke, Bermuda-based Intelsat. VanBeber wouldn’t disclose any details of Intelsat’s negotiations with TelOne, and she declined to say how long the Zimbabwe bill was past due.

Officials at TelOne and the Zimbabwean embassy in Washington didn’t respond to requests for comment.

-- Grant Gross, IDG News Service

Intel to Invest $40M In Software Vendor

SHENYANG, China -- Intel Corp. plans to invest $40 million (U.S.) in Neusoft Group Ltd. as part of a deal that calls for the Shenyang-based software vendor to optimize its products for systems with Intel microprocessors.

Intel said the agreement, which was announced last week, marks the largest investment made to date by its venture capital arm through a $200 million fund established last year for investing in Chinese technology companies.

Under the terms of agreement, Neusoft and Intel also will jointly develop the curriculum for a university-level education and certification training program focused on Intel’s architecture and tools.

Neusoft develops business management and human resources applications, in addition to running IT training programs in China and providing outsourced software development services for embedded applications.

SAP AG has also invested in Neusoft. It acquired an undisclosed minority stake in the Chinese company in May as part of an agreement under which Neusoft will offer training classes on SAP’s products and use SAP’s NetWeaver technology in some of its product development efforts.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

Jailed Chinese Reporter To Sue Yahoo in U.S.

HONG KONG -- A journalist jailed in China last year in part because of e-mail evidence that was provided to the Chinese government by a Yahoo Inc. subsidiary plans to file a lawsuit against the company in the U.S.

A civil suit against Yahoo on behalf of Shi Tao, who is serving a 10-year sentence for divulging state secrets, will likely be filed in a federal court in New York or California within a few months, said Albert Ho, a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong and a lawyer for Shi.

“We’re trying to line up other victims for a class action,” Ho said. He added, though, that for potential plaintiffs, the lawsuit is “a very sensitive issue because there could be reprisals against their families” by Chinese authorities.

Ho said that even though Shi is not a U.S. citizen, he can file a lawsuit in the country under the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789.

A Yahoo spokeswoman in Hong Kong couldn’t be reached for comment last week. In the past, the company has defended its business practices in China by saying that it must follow local laws.

-- Dan Nystedt, IDG News Service

U.S. Outsourcer Opens Third Philippine Facility

MARIKINA CITY, Philippines -- ICT Group Inc. in Newtown, Pa., last month opened its third business proc¿ess outsourcing call center in the Philippines and disclosed plans to set up at least two more BPO facilities in the country next year.

ICT’s new facility in Marikina City, near Manila, employs more than 1,400 people. John Brennan, ICT’s president, said at a ceremony marking the opening of the facility that by the end of next year, the company expects to have up to five facilities with more than 5,000 staffers in the Philippines.

Brennan said ICT officials currently are identifying and evaluating possible sites, within and outside of metropolitan Manila, for the two additional facilities the company plans to set up.

-- Tom S. Noda, Computerworld Philippines

Compiled by Mike Bucken.

Briefly Noted

AOL LLC last week announced the sale of its Internet access unit in France to Neuf Cegetel SA for 288 million euros ($366 million U.S.). The addition of AOL France SNC gives about 500,000 new customers to Neuf Cegetel, a broadband network operator in Nanterre, France. The deal came less than a week after AOL sold its German Internet operation to Telecom Italia SpA for 675 million euros ($856 million U.S.).

-- Nancy Gohring, IDG News Service

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. last week named Chua Sock Koong to succeed outgoing group CEO Lee Hsien Yang, effective next April. Chua currently is CEO of SingTel’s international operations and group chief financial officer. Lee, who has headed SingTel since 1995, led the company’s push into markets beyond Singapore.

-- Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service

The U.S. Department of Justice said that a Samsung Electronics Co. executive agreed to plead guilty and serve jail time for participating in a global price-fixing conspiracy on memory chips. U.S. resident Thomas Quinn admitted that he participated in the conspiracy as vice president of marketing for memory products at Seoul-based Samsung’s U.S. subsidiary in Irvine, Calif.

-- Marc Ferranti, IDG News Service

IBM has set up an application services facility in Kolkata, India, that can support 3,000 workers. But an IBM spokeswoman said late last month that she couldn’t disclose a schedule for staffing the facility. The company announced in June that it plans to invest $6 billion (U.S.) in India over the next three years.

-- John Ribeiro, IDG News Service

EPAM Systems Inc. and Vested Development Inc., a pair of software development outsourcing firms in Lawrenceville, N.J., and Moscow, respectively, have agreed to merge. The combined company will operate under the EPAM Systems name, with a workforce of about 2,200 software engineers in eight countries and annual revenue in excess of $70 million.

-- Pavel Kupriyanov, Computerworld Russia

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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